Franken Lies About Hannity’s School Choice Claim

Franken falsely accuses Sean Hannity of crediting vouchers with the turning around of public schools in East Harlem then writes, “…the ‘Miracle in East Harlem’ didn’t actually involve vouchers. There were no vouchers. None.” Franken claims that Hannity is “deliberately misleading his readers.”

Here’s how Franken pulls it off.

Franken writes, “Vouchers, says Hannity, will succeed because they will “break the nearly total government monopoly on K-12 education in this country.” That line Franken quotes is from pages 162-163 of Hannity’s book. Remember that. Franken continues

The proof?

Hannity describes a couple of since-discredited studies and then quotes an editorial saying that, “vouchers offer the only hope available to many poor students trapped in the worst schools.” Now comes the lie. “Want more proof?” asks Hannity. “Come right here to New York.”

He then trumpets The Miracle in East Harlem: The Fight for Choice in Public Education, a book that chronicles a remarkable success story…

[Lies, p. 102]

Trouble is, Franken jumped to page 167 of Hannity’s book. Hannity was not giving proof on page 167 for anything he had written on page 163. Rather, Hannity was citing evidence for a claim he made at the start of the new chapter section–on page 166.

The first line in the section reads, “Other evidence in favor of school choice is mounting.” Hannity then proceeds to offer several separate pieces of evidence. Hannity’s portrayal of the Harlem school miracle is an additional piece of evidence for school choice, separate from the op-ed quote about vouchers offering the “only hope” for some.

In other words, Hannity cited the editorial about vouchers as one piece of evidence and cited the story about East Harlem as a separate piece of evidence. Franken dishonestly linked the two.

In fact, Hannity, claiming Harlem’s public schools turned around with their own brand of school choice, writes,

The voucher movement hadn’t really gathered steam yet, and no private, parochial, or otherwise religious schools would be allowed to participate. It wasn’t exactly the brand of school choice I prefer, but it was a step forward—and it worked.

[Freedom, p. 167]

Franken ignores Hannity’s acknowledgement of school choice working without vouchers in Harlem. Instead, Franken lies

Hannity carefully avoids saying whether or not the East Harlem program uses vouchers. Suddenly, he switches to the term “school choice.”

To recapitulate: Franken listed a quote from a different part of the chapter, omitted the relevant quote and pretended Hannity had used the Harlem Miracle to substantiate a quote from a New York Times op-ed piece (written by Michael Leo Owens of Emory University).

Franken thought he would be safe because it takes a bit of unweaving to expose his setup.

Hannity’s readers however, knew Hannity was not associating vouchers with the Harlem Miracle because he explained what the Harlem Miracle entailed.

That’s right. Hannity explained what the people in East Harlem did and it quite unmistakeably is not vouchers. Franken must have noticed that Hannity explained it because Franken copied his account of what happened from Hannity! Note the portions in bold.

Hannity’s account:

a handful of teachers and principles in District 4 asked if they could reorganize part of their school district into small, independently run alternative public schools to which neighborhood parents could choose to send their children…

Franken’s account:

A handful of teachers and principles in District Four reorganized their district into small, independently run alternative public schools to which parents could choose to send their children.